The brown-furred, black-striped tiger perched atop the hood of a Rolls Royce looked strikingly similar to the 7-month-old tiger now being cared for by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But authorities have stopped short of staying whether the tiger wildlife officials found is the same one in pictures posted by Grammy-nominated rapper Tyga.
Despite multiple reports that the tiger belongs to Tyga -- and pictures on the rapper’s Instagram that show a tiger lounging on the floor of a recording studio and nuzzling his nose against a rope -- a source with knowledge of the Fish and Wildlife investigation said wardens are still “working to establish proper ownership of the animal.”
The source asked not to be identified because the case is still being investigated.
Department spokesman Andrew Hughan refused to offer details about the investigation, but said that whoever is found to own the tiger could face a misdemeanor charge of possession of a restricted species, which carries a maximum sentence of about six months in prison and about a $1,000 fine.
Fish and Wildlife officers first received a report of a tiger housed at a home in Ventura County on April 19, Hughan said. A warden responded to the report, but no one was home, and the warden found no evidence of an animal in the backyard, he said.
The warden waited at the house for hours until around 11 p.m. when a person returned to the home, Hughan said.
That person, he said, admitted to housing the animal, but told the warden that it had been removed and transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center that afternoon.
Hughan said that the person interviewed was not Tyga, whose given name is Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson
Officials transported the tiger from the center to a “permitted facility,” which Hughan would not name. The investigation is expected to take several weeks, he added.
“Whatever the outcome of the investigation is, what’s important to the department is the safety and security of the tiger,” he said. “We will work diligently to find a permanent home for this animal.”
The incident marks the second time in less than a year that a tiger issue has flared up in Ventura County.
A proposal to build a compound that could house up to five tigers near Malibu was rejected last month by Ventura County planning officials following vehement protests by neighbors of the rural mountainous area near the Malibu-Ventura County line.
Two sisters, Irena Hauser and Sophia Kryszek, wanted a place to put two white Bengal tigers that have starred in many print ads, TV shows and videos. Nearby residents hired a PR firm, brought in lawyers and organized a protest and community meeting to fight the plan.